In a lawsuit between the Ray Charles Charitable Foundation and Ray Charles’ children, a big ruling may be coming soon. In the lawsuit, the Ray Charles Charitable Foundation brought a claim for Declaritory Relief that they are safe any alleged copyright termination claims from Ray Charles’ children because the songs at issue were “works made for hire”. The problem is that if the works are in fact “works made for hire”, then Warner/Chappell has standing to bring the suit but it is unclear if a mere third party beneficiary such the Ray Charles Charitable Foundation has standing to bring suit. The judge in this case has requested further breifing on the issue.
With the onslaught of suits that are forthcoming due the 35 year termination on copyright assignments that will start running next year, this is an important determination to be made. If in fact a third party beneficiary can step in and file suit for a “work made for hire”, there are a lot more people in the game to contest any termination. For a more detailed article on this, check out this article on the Hollywood Reporter.
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